What 2K Sports has accomplished with NBA 2K7 is nothing short of magical. Without question, this is the most realistic interpretation of professional basketball ever produced. This is a true simulation, one that requires proper play calling, substitutions, shot selection and talent. This is not a game for the casual fan.
It's long been a dream for die hard basketball fans to have a video game that achieves everything NBA 2K7 offers on the Xbox 360 – even then, it's impossible to consider how far this series has come. Its focus is purely on the court, while the level of stunning immersion creates an atmosphere unlike any game before it.
To a casual eye, some may wonder what changes have been implemented. To a follower of the NBA, they can only hope their jaw can stay shut. Individual style is not a marketing term, it's the only plausible way to explain how this game flows. Two hundred separate jump shots have been flawlessly animated, along with other moves, free throw routines, run styles, and a focus on things occurring around the core action.
While it may seem like a minor touch not worth the effort, the variety of jump shots leads to numerous gameplay benefits. Playing as the Spurs, Brent Barry's short hop when he shoots changes the timing accuracy and makes it easier to block. Robert Horry takes a substantial leap leading to the opposite scenario. It is imperative to learn the entire roster's tendencies.
Another thing 2K7 achieves is pacing. On the default settings, a proper game with realistic scores and stats requires nine to ten minute quarters. While still slightly off from the real thing, this is the closest any video game has come (likewise, NBA Live 07 can do the same with five minute quarters, an insult to the real game).
Isomotion returns, a deke system set up to perform an array of offensive maneuvers to gain the offensive advantage. This is a convoluted system using both triggers and the left analog stick. With practice, it creates a needed array of moves to slip past any defender. This also morphs into the shot stick, performed with the opposite analog. This is unnatural for jump shots, but allows superior control when on the inside. Specific dunks and other in-close shots can be chosen at will.
The right analog stick continues getting a workout on the opposite side of the ball. If a defender is close to making a move, a quick flick can cut him off, possibly even causing a turnover. Mistiming this leaves an open lane. Other new features include dual player control. This allows for the player to command a teammate to move into another position, incredibly helpful when there's an open lane and the AI isn't responding.
Outside of the game on the hardwood, the presentation sets a new standard. Without an official TV license, 2K7 creates one it can call its own. Kevin Harlan and Kenny Smith call a perfect game each time out. The crowd stands during tense late game situations along with a bench (filled with recognizable player models) cheering their squad on. People get up and walk the aisles to get refreshments, the mascots harass referees, cheerleaders keep the crowd entertained, and mop boys keep the playing surface dry.
Every aspect of this game is presented properly. At a distance in high definition, the game is nearly indistinguishable from a TV broadcast. The reflection on the court is a technical feat in itself. Moving closer reveals some rather awkward faces, though complete with dripping sweat late in the game.
Play modes are widely varied, including trademark 2K Sports inclusions. The Association, a fancy word for a franchise mode, now includes fatigue outside of the game. The more a player practices and works on the court, the less energy he'll have come the playoffs. Deep roster management and bench utilization is a must as in the real game. Also, multi-player is now possible when playing through this mode.
The street ball oriented 24/7 Mode has been revamped in its entirety. Now with a fully acted storyline similar to Sony's The Life in NBA 07 on the PS2, this becomes more than a few random pick-up games. Online Xbox Live options include deep league play, tournaments, private matches and of course ranked games.
The only true gripe with this product is a somewhat ridiculous menu system that uses the right analog stick to select different options. It goes against nearly every other game on the market — sports related or not — when the B button doesn't move back a screen. When that's the deepest complaint to be had, you know you've found something special.
In less than a year, 2K Sports has made the competition obsolete. This is the only name in realistic pro basketball. It's not only easy to say this is the best sports game this year; it's one of the best games this year period. This is as close to a perfect product as they come.
NBA 2K7 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2, PS3, Xbox.